New COVID-19 Related Changes To Massachusetts Evictions Procedure

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Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.

As of October 19, 2020, the Massachusetts Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency (the “Moratorium”) expired.  The Moratorium, signed by Governor Charlie Baker in April 20, 2020, in connection with the COVID-19 state of emergency declaration dated as of March 10, 2020, temporarily suspended certain residential and commercial evictions. While the Moratorium is expired, landlords and tenants should remain mindful that the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the “CDC”) eviction moratorium remains in effect through January 31, 2021, unless extended.  The CDC moratorium prohibits evictions for those tenants who meet certain income and hardship qualifications.

In addition, Massachusetts landlords should be aware of new developments pertaining to state eviction procedures, specifically with respect to Notices to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent. On December 31, 2020, Governor Baker signed Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020 (the “Act”).  The Act requires that prior to filing an eviction complaint against a tenant, a landlord must complete, sign (under the pains and penalties of perjury) and deliver to tenant, a certification, attesting to the following: whether or not (a) the landlord’s tenant previously provided to landlord a declaration to an order of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention entitled “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19; (b) whether or not the property is a “covered dwelling” within the meaning of Section 4024(a)(1) of the federal Coronavirus Air, Relief, and Economic Security Act, P.L. 116-136 (the “CARES Act”) [A “covered dwelling” may include residential property that participates in certain federal housing programs or is subject to federally backed mortgage loan] ; and (c) there is a written or verbal agreement between the tenant and landlord related to the repayment of overdue rent.  A copy of the form and instructions for landlords are available online at mass.gov. The form should be sent together with the customary Notice to Quit,

Following delivery of the completed form, the landlord must submit an electronic copy to Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.  Pursuant to the Act, Massachusetts courts shall not accept an eviction complaint for a residential lease absent proof of delivery of the aforementioned form.

In light of the increasingly complicated requirements and procedures of Massachusetts evictions, a landlord should strongly consider seeking experienced, legal guidance. 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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